Depression is a relatively common mood disorder among Canadians. In 2012, the Canadian Community Health Survey determined that 4.7% of Canadians aged 15 and older met the criteria for a diagnosis. While more recent statistics are difficult to find, it’s safe to assume that the prevalence of depression has increased in light of current world events, including the pandemic.
While medication is often helpful for treating depression, many physicians recommend therapy to complement pharmaceutical care. A therapist can help patients learn practical coping skills to avoid feeling paralyzed by their depression.
For many, the cost of therapy is one of the most significant barriers to receiving care. Thankfully, insurance benefits can help make mental health care more accessible; however, benefit plans are often complicated and hard to understand.
Use this guide to help you maximize your health benefits so you can access therapy when you need it most.
Understand Your Coverage
Since Alberta Health Care doesn’t cover private therapy, most Albertans depend on employer group benefits or personal plans to cover their appointment costs. It’s important to understand that each plan is unique, so while some may cover the total cost of your sessions up to a yearly maximum, others may only pay for a fraction of your expense while giving you access to more sessions.
If you’re not sure whether your insurance plan covers therapy, or if you’re not sure what your coverage entails, it’s best to contact your benefits administrator or plan provider directly.
Check for Referral Requirements
Some insurance plans may require you to have a referral from a physician or another medical professional before they cover the cost of your depression therapy. Make sure to research your specific plan or contact your provider to determine if any prerequisites are in place. If they are, you may wish to visit your family doctor or another practitioner to receive a referral to avoid unexpected out-of-pocket costs. Furthermore, having a referral can ensure your physician and psychologist work together to provide you with the best possible integrated care.
Prepare for Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Even with insurance coverage, you might find yourself paying out-of-pocket for a portion of your therapy costs or any appointments scheduled after you’ve reached your annual benefit limit. Budgeting for therapy, as you would any other expense, significantly reduces financial stress. Consider setting aside a dedicated therapy fund to cover out-of-pocket costs to make the most of your insurance without stressing out over future expenses.
Determine Your Therapist’s Preferred Approach
While most insurance plans cover a wide range of therapeutic approaches when provided by a licensed psychologist, it’s essential to verify with your insurance provider whether the modality offered by your chosen psychologist is covered.
It’s also important to remember that different types of therapy vary in frequency and duration. While cognitive behavioural therapy is often a short-term, solution-focused approach, interpersonal therapy can require more sessions. Being aware of session duration and how long treatment typically takes can help you better use your benefits.
Most insurance plans come with an annual benefit maximum, so it’s important to plan accordingly. That may mean spacing out your sessions so that your coverage lasts longer.
It’s wise to keep track of your sessions and how much of your benefit you’ve used throughout the year. Doing so can prevent unexpected breaks or out-of-pocket costs and keep your therapy on track.
Get Depression Support from Alberta Forensic Psychology
Whether you have questions about coverage or you’re ready to book an appointment with one of our psychologists, we’re here to help. Contact us today.